Published Mar 26, 2019When your career has been equally defined by some truly iconic anthems, and by helping to launch many equally respected acts into the Canadian music consciousness, sometimes you need a second to go back to your roots. And boy, has Steven Lambke accomplished that on his sophomore solo album, Dark Blue.
Bringing together an all-star backing band including ex-Dirty Nil bassist Dave Nardi and prolific multi-instrumentalist Daniel Romano, the album is a poetic and potent powerhouse. Guitars rifle through chugging riffs and gentle picking, while Romano's drum work carries the songs as much as Lambke's warm baritone. The flutes on "At the Start of the Song" coat the track in a more baroque shade, and coupled with the organ swells in "Both of Me," showcase a more theatrical and cinematic production approach.
What impressed me most about Lambke is his commitment to wry and sincere lyricism. Like his time with Constantines and Baby Eagle, Lambke's prose conveys vivid and heartfelt imagery, a shy reservation belying the observance and practice of some age-old ritual. The theme of "poetry racing through my mind" honed on "Major Rager" is a constant that makes his performance all the better. To steal the show with a line like "Don't bring cut flowers to my grave, whatever place will mark me will be wild" cuts right to the listener's core. And that's perhaps what makes "Cut Flowers" a stirring example of taking the basics of music composition and turning it into something astounding.
Dark Blue is its own beast. For a project meant to mark a decade of label success, it's the turn to a new chapter in Steven Lambke's personal and professional career. It's a little guitar rock, a touch singer-songwriter and a blend of some of the country's most unsung performers collaborating on some truly inspired music. (You've Changed)